Erdoğan suspects EU won’t fulfill promises on visa-free travel

Erdoğan suspects EU won’t fulfill promises on visa-free travel

Erdoğan suspects EU won’t fulfill promises on visa-free travel

AFP photo

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has voiced suspicions over whether the EU will fulfill its promises as part of the Ankara-Brussels migration agreement and grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel in the Schengen area. 

“They [the EU] told me, during my prime ministry, that they would implement [a visa-free] Schengen [deal] starting from this October. Now there are talks to move it forward to June; but now they have brought up the issue of 72 criteria. ‘This will be implemented if these 72 criteria are met,’ they say,” Erdoğan said on a television show late March 20. 

Turkey and the EU signed the deal on the Readmission Agreement in return for allowing Turkish citizens with visa-free travel to the Schengen area in late 2013. The agreement was planned to be implemented in 2017, but with Turkey’s insistence the date was moved to late June this year. However, the deal stipulates that Turkey has to fulfill 72 benchmarks to implement visa liberalization to its citizens. 

Earlier on March 20, Erdoğan discussed the Turkey-EU deal with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in an announced meeting, at a moment when he increased his critical voice against the EU on both ongoing Turkey-EU ties and EU’s migration and anti-terror policies. 

“If we look at to the past from the perspective of values, we can see that they never keep their words. They won’t this time either. I am aware. Why?  In the past, when a negotiation chapter would be opened, it had to be closed as well. Only the chapter on education could be closed. There are now 14 chapters opened but none of them closed. Why? Because they have suspended the closure of chapters. Why? This is Turkey. When they implement this for another country, they immediately close them,” Erdoğan stressed. 

The EU has never treated Turkey in a sincere way and they are not sincere now, Erdoğan added.